Kenyan and Nigerian are joint Babishai Niwe Poetry Prize 2016 winners

Kenyan Sanya Noel and Nigerian Moyosore Orimoloye are joint Babishai Niwe Poetry Prize 2016 winners. The announcement was made at a fancy do at the Fang Fang Restaurant in Kampala Uganda at the close of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Festival 2016.

Kampala, Uganda was the host of a series of events for adults and children which celebrated poetry in all its forms at the Babishai Niwe Poetry Festival which was running for the second year. The festival which was hosted primarily at Maria’s Place in Ntinda featured poets from all over the continent sharing their craft and their experiences with one another as well as those who were trying to break into the industry.

The events at the Fang Fang Restaurant emceed by Beverley Nambozo started with performances from a rare occurrences; Africans who live in different parts of the continent performing on the same stage. This is especially rare in East Africa where there tends to be a large number of performers from the home country and then one or two people who are from another country living there supplementing the performances to make it “international.” This evening this was not the case as performers from South Africa, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya and host country Uganda shared a stage.

The highlight performers in spite of the “international invasion” had to have been the Ugandans. Rap Poet is a performer who specializes in performance poetry that draws from rap and hip hop whilst fusing his traditional music instruments. He performed a piece about his Kampala while playing on his lyre/nyatiti/obokano/give it your African name which was very well received.

Also appreciated was Slim MC, a lean young poet with the current rave of unkempt hair who spat a few very conscious poems about how the Africans are being exploited by the rich and the white. This was without a doubt the most thought provoking performance so the evening for me.

Also bring the house down was Kenyan emcee L-Ness the Lioness whose song “Order” proclaimed that Africans have the capacity to solve all of its extreme problems. Order? Order!

Also impressing were South African Duduzile Mabaso, Kenyan Ngartia and Liberian Lekpele Nyamalon. There was also a very colourful performance by Ghanaian Oswald Okaitei which was long on singing with elaborate hand gestures using a fly whisk and very low on content.

With the evening’s performances done and dusted, we could now get to the serious job awarding the best poet of the night. The judge who was in the house then spoke about the process that he and fellow judge Stephen Partington had come to their decision; it sounded like a hell of a lot of work bless the two of them.

The Kenyan embassy had sent their representative Ambassador Robert Ngesu and he gave a few words about his previous poeting days while at the University of Nairobi then on to the official business of the day.

Those who had made it to the longish shortlist were the following;

  • how the world wishes you fixed it – Redscar Mcodindo K’Oyuga (Kenya)
  • I AM NOT SORRY ANYMORE. – Kakinda Maria Birungi (Uganda)
  • Introduction – Musawenkosi Khanyile (South Africa)
  • You have no notebook. – Kyle Allan (South Africa)
  • Home – Sanya Noel (Kenya)
  • What we would have called you if you had lived – Sanya Noel (Kenya).
  • Love is a plot device and your insecticide is not – Orimoloe Moyosore (Nigeria)
  • Naked – Caitlin Spring (U.S.A/South Africa)
  • MY WRITINGS – Victor Samuel Monday (Nigeria)

If you read the poems here then you know who was a front runner. Who am I kidding? I just read our friend Richard Oduor Oduku’s illuminating review of the shortlist and waited to see if my parroting of his opinions would “bear any fruit.”. Turns out following Richard’s opinion is not such a bad thing as Sanya Noel from Kenya and Nigerian Moyosore Orimoloye would be sharing the prize money and the glory this evening as joint winners. This glory includes 700 USD, participation in the 6-month Babishai mentorshsip scheme and fully paid for attendance in selected festivals around Africa.

Kenya’s Redscar Mcodindo K’Oyuga, Kakinda Maria Birungi from Uganda and Kyle Allan from South Africa rounded out the top five in the competition.

Congratulations to the winners.

Update: With Redscar MacOdindo K’oyua being accused of plagiarism, the Babishai Foundation released a statement about this horrible state of affairs that you can read here.

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